The Kardashians: A Soap

By Connie Passalacqua Hayman

aka Marlena De Lacroix

Soap starved, I have become obsessed with the Kardashians.  Every day, I can’t wait to see what’s happening with the three sisters whose IQs combined don’t top mine.  But never mind that. Their lives are filled with romance, glamour, strum and drang, not to mention heavy make-up:  things soaps once brought me on a daily basis.  Some days I’m convinced their mother Kris is going to peel off her face, revealing the woman who plays her — Linda Dano!

The Kardashians (E! Television Network, repeated endlessly throughout the week as Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Kim and Kourtney Take New York) have close family ties — a staple of soaps, with their large extended families.  There is always someone to talk to, aboutkardashians intimate things like dating, birth control and sweet sixteen venues.  In case storylines with older sisters Khloe, Kourtney and Kim cool down, there are always spare sisters hanging around — little Kendall and Kylie,  just waiting to be thrown into the soapy mix. 

In the best soap form, the women rule in this family, with the men being secondary.  Bruce Jenner is everyone’s ideal giving dad and Scott Disick is, well, a jerk, and therefore a good storyline foil.  And pity poor Kris Humphries:  a leading man whose contract was canceled before he could even make it to his third month! Recast! Fast!  Many short, interrupted  soap marriages break up at the altar. Kim and Kris’ just took 71 more days to do it.

The Kardashians are about what soaps once were about: women’s lives.  You want to know what will happen with Kim, the world’s most beautiful woman, who more than anything has a life and a face approaching the legend of the gorgeous Erica Kane.  Who did Erica Kane love best among her thirteen husbands and umpteen lovers?  Herself!  Who does Kim love most? Like Erica, all she wants is career, career, career, but at the same time, her “dream” of an ideal man.  As of All My Children‘s finale, Erica was still chasing those dreams.   At the rate Kim is going, thirteen husbands is not  an impossibility.

Like soaps, the Kardashians reality show has storylines that are open to speculation and anticipation. Why did Kim’s marriage to Kris really break up so quickly?   We watch Kim and Kourtney Take New York waiting for clues.  ‘Cause he throws her on the bed like basketball as foreplay?  ‘Cause he told her the truth, that no one will be interested in her by the time her children are old enough for school?  Kim, ever the narcissist, can’t take it.

Despite everything, I watch. I watch the women whose nasal voices drive me crazy, whose animal print clothing makes me want to look the other way.  ‘Cause I need my soap fix, I need my romance fix, I need my family fix.  I need soap operas — after all, they weren’t real, either. 


  1. Marlena, you mean to tell me that you rather watch this garbage than the final episodes of OLTL? What’s happened to your good taste in television? And what are your thoughts on Prospect Park suspending their deals with both AMC and OLTL?

    Marlena says: There’s not much we can do about the end of One Life to Live or the collapse of the Prospect Park deal. Perhaps it’s time to move on. I invite my readers to comment on how they get their soap fix now.

  2. This was me pre-Humphries. After the extravagant wedding and subsequent divorce announcement, I was done. It’s just too much manipulation of reality for my soap-loving heart.

    I will no longer give these useless people further validation ($$) with my viewership. They’ve done nothing to elevate television or humanity for that matter.

    But it’s nice to see the master back at it!

    Marlena says: Thanks, friend!

  3. Dear Marlena/Connie,

    It’s good that you have written again.

    I’m not up for this show on E!

    I am still tuned in to “The Young and the Restless” and, to a lesser degree, “The Bold and the Beautiful.” (With the former, I’m just dazzled by all things Melody Thomas Scott. Fabulous work from daytime’s best kept secret—and blame for that goes to her soap!)

    I am in touch with the final weeks of “One Life to Live.”

    And then there are other matters which are unrelated to the television soap-opera genre.

    I hope you are doing well. I wish well for you—and for all others who come here—for a healthy and safe 2012.


  4. I’ve been following you since Soap Opera Weekly. Please forget about the Kardashian bimbos & watch Days of Our lives 2.0. Great stuff!

  5. Currently lost in the heaven that is UK soaps…Eastenders, Emmerdale and (to a smaller degree) Hollyoaks are old school soaps with mulit-genereational multi-racial casts and stories that can’t be beat and don’t make me scream at the TV at the stupidity of them! There are alot of ways for US fans to access them (torrents, download sites, YouTube), it breaks my heart that when Eastenders and Hollyoaks aired in America SOD and SOW refused to cover them. I wrote a letter to the SOW editor and she had NO interest in them saying she had enough to cover with the US soaps…wonder how she’s doing now! 🙁

  6. Instead of the stupid Kardashians on the E! network, why not watch all the primetime drama shows on the AMC cable network like “Mad Men”, “Breaking Bad”, “The Walking Dead”, and “The Killing”!

  7. Marlena, please don’t sell out on us! You’re the only true connisseur of daytime drama; don’t go to the dark side, especially with those Kardashians. Please, don’t stop believing; there is still good, quality programming out there. Hopefully, with the new regime coming at GH, there will be change afoot. And there’s still Days, Y&R, and B&B to watch. Don’t give up.

  8. I am with those who beg you, Marlena, not to sell out. Please don’t take the Stockholm syndrome this far, my dear, I’ve appreciated your take on soaps for over twenty years now and this latest post-after being gone for how long?-was like a slap in the face.

    I do not want to give up on what soaps were, but enjoy what little good is left and love what they have been. Reality junk will never replace that. If the Kardashians are what women’s lives are about, I fear for my daughter’s future.

    The death of the PP deal is indeed a body blow to the daytime fanbase, but I for one will not dance with the devil and give in to “popularity” simply because what I loved is now vanquished. OLTL is over and I accept that. The Kardashian sisters can have their vapid existences. Just, please do not sell out on us!

  9. Or you could at least check into ABC’s “Revenge”, an amazing old skool playing prime time soap!

  10. MARLENA!!! We miss your daily posts!!! Come back to us!!!

    So instead of “which soap will get cancelled next?”

    How about “which soap MAGAZINE will bite the dust next?”

    ABC Soaps in Depth
    CBS Soaps in Depth
    Soap Opera Digest
    Soap Opera Weekly

    The Wall Street Journal said it will happen to Soap Opera Digest and sometime in 2012 (sad face).

  11. Marilyn Henry says:

    Hi Connie,
    Gotta say, I can’t even imagine watching the vapidity that is the Kardashians. But I have never taken up any of the many reality shows–you and I know they are no more reality than other dramas, just without the good writing or decent acting. Anyway, I guess it is one way to mourn our beloved soaps–to each his own. Just thinking about OLTL right now makes me choke up…

    There has been so much speculation on how to save soaps, such as putting soaps on Lifetime or Oprah’s new channel or another such channel, or even nitetime…
    Hope you don’t mind me speaking to all this.
    I don’t think finding the time or the channels on which to place them is the problem. We fans forget how much it costs to PRODUCE just one day’s worth of a good soap like OLTL. To just replace old made-for-TV movies with regular soap episodes sounds great–until you consider the cost of each of those episodes. They must be produced new each day. That’s been the problem all along. That money has to come from somewhere and advertising has long been the route that carried them. The networks can’t charge as much for an ad on a low rated show as they can for one that is high rated, nor can they sell as many ads. For a while SoapNet seemed to be the way to get soaps to night time viewers, but even there they didn’t handle it well. Not everyone had Soapnet and as soaps began to go away, fewer were available to show and the time was filled in with old night-time stuff. Some of the best soaps such as Santa Barbara, had rights problems too costly to deal with. I used to watch the talk show with Lisa and Ty where they interviewed soap stars, but even that got canceled. And SoapNet was there to show already shown soaps, not new shows they had to produce themselves.
    I can see the problem, but I HATE the solution, which has been to cancel cancel cancel. I’ve tried the 10 minute soap segments of The Bay online, but that format is too hard to follow every day. It was a fascinating experiment, had great actors, interesting situations, but too little time to really get into anything in those brief segments. If they could have gone to half hour or hour episodes 3 days a week at say, noon, I would certainly have watched.
    But it would take a pretty solid production company with big money, to produce daily soaps as we know them. And most simply don’t want to spend it these days. It isn’t that soaps are no longer viable entertainment or that viewers prefer ‘information’, it isn’t even a trend away from good drama. That’s nonsense. The audience is there, but the numbers also have to be there. Even Oprah, with all the money in the world is struggling to get that new channel up and running, and the on-going production expenses of a soap would be killing if it didn’t show returns quickly. The major networks are on most basic packages TV carriers sell. The many channels aside from networks are more here and there. Certainly not everyone has all of them. So, depending on the package offered, the number of viewers are going to be smaller.
    I think the canceling is a huge mistake, that the networks are missing a bet of making something special that could re-energize daytime and its programming. Some careful thought, some fresh ideas might very well solve the problem. Or they could add to the profits If, for instance, there was a way to create reruns to sell as they do Lucy or Gunsmoke series, maybe editing so they could concentrate on one story. Or putting a nostalgia show on SoapNet where they could show special memories, such as the Nurses Ball episodes all in a group by years. Or Luke and Laura on the Run, first year. I’d be SO thrilled to see Lane Davies again, to watch Tristan Rogers, Jed Allen, Charles Keating, A Martinez, Nik Coster, Genie Francis, Erika Slezak, Robin Strasser, Nancy Grahn, Harley Kozak, Jensen Bucanan, Linda Dano, Thorston Kaye, Susan Haskell–well, so many great favorites from years past. (Many of these actors came and went on The Bay, surprisingly.) Damn. They need to keep SoapNet running so they can utilize it with special past episodes that would soften the blow to soap fans for losing their shows. OR if there was a way to do a soap in three times a week, hour-long episodes, I’d go for it! A lot of soap lovers would.

    But even there costs would still be prohibitive. There has to be a building, a studio (BIG cost), and sets and the crew to handle that and also the storage space. Costumes–room to store, people to buy, fix, design, fit, whatever. Actors’ salaries, writers’, producers’ salaries. These costs are what any new venue faces taking on a soap. Sad that Prospect Park lost so much money and couldn’t find the rest in time. But it was a huge hurdle.

    I am absolutely heartbroken about losing OLTL. It HURTS! I so still want to believe there is a solution.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I get my soap fix with (online) web series & fan fiction I’m satisfied with the stories no its not streaming but I enjoy reading them. I’m getting it from prime time shows as well. I will miss soaps though; I just wish they would have figured something out. Prospect Park I was skeptical from the get go It turned out to be a dummy corporation all talk with no money.

  13. Cyberologist says:

    I get my soap fix online web series e.g. “The Bay” & reading fan fiction its not streaming but the storytelling is interesting & I enjoy them. I always was skeptical but still looked forward to Prospect Park it was just a dummy corporation all talk no money. Right now I want to see what Carlivati/Valentini will do with GH esp w/Fron (Phelps) gone. I was truly disappointed with Garin Wolf & Shelly Altman wasn’t there long enough for me to figure out her influence.
    P.S. PS Happy New Year Marlena & everyone!!

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